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Icelandic Art IV

From the beginning and until the present day, landscape has been the central preoccupation of Icelandic artists. Naturally, their attitude to landscape has undergone various changes in accordance with changing social mores and cultural preoccupations. The work of the Icelandic Landscape pioneers, Porarinn B. Porlaksson, Asgrimur Jonsson, Kjarval and Jon Stefansson was suffused with the optimism and patriotic fervour of the independence movement.

The reality facing Icelander in the wake of the commonwealth declaration of 1918 was not quite as idyllic. At the "Alpingishatid", the Parliment international economic depression, growing unemployment and increasing political polarization. The reality is reflected in the works of the generation of landscape painters which emerged during the 1020s. The give way to grim descriptions of frozen wastes, harsh lava outcrops and rocky wildernes, challenging our ideas of "natural beauty" and personal safety. Thus, Eggert Laxdal (1897-1951) sees the "hallowed" landscape of Parliamentary Plains, Plingvellir, as a pile of rocks.

Finnur Jonsson (1892-1993) redefines the Romactic highlands as the graveyard of hapless men and beasts, while Gudmundur Einarsson fr Middal (1895-1963) seeks out places where geyers boil and volcanoes erupt. In a painting by Sveinn Porarinsson (1899-1977) Mt. Herdubreid is seen as an inaccessible fortress, belogning to some threatening dark force.